Friday, January 31, 2014

Packing Real Food for Days at Work

With my recent return to daily adventures with a classroom of children {a.k.a. full time teaching} I'm so grateful that my husband and I started to figure out last year how to prepare food that he enjoys eating while at work.

Because a while back when I was doing a daily commute that I'm truly embarrassed of, working over time, and barely keeping my head above water we weren't packing lunches. As in, I'd grab a can of soup or a box of crackers to keep at work and munch when possible and he would go out to lunch daily. Sounds unhealthy and expensive... well, we've made it a priority to figure this out and now we have a the skeletons of a system to pack appropriate meals for the two of us and our work days. I thought I'd share in case it gave some new ideas to some families while packing.

-Breakfasts & Morning Snacks
At the beginning of the school year we made smoothies, muffins, and breakfast bakes to eat in the morning - whether we eat this at home or take to work. This meant some preparations over the summer. We hit up a few you-pick berry farms and froze berries, chopped super ripe bananas. I try to keep coconut milk on hand.

Recently we've been making containers of already prepared veggies and cooked bulk sausage to throw together a quick breakfast right before we head out the door.

When I have an extra few minutes and nothing else prepared I find that fruit and oatmeal is great too. Oatmeal isn't my husband's favorite, so he prefers something with a little more protein or a little more jam {toast is just the vehicle for jam, right?!}.

-Lunches & Afternoon Snacks
We typically pack our left overs from dinner for several of our lunches each week. Other days we might make a sandwich or a super tasty salad. I round everything out with fresh fruit, trail mix, no-bake energy bites {we love this recipe from Ali with Gimme Some Oven}, or other easy prep seasonal side dishes {i.e. different types of potato salads, black beans & brown rice, cucumber/tomato salads, fresh salsa & tortilla chips, quinoa based sides}. Many of these items I can prepare one evening at the beginning of the week or over the weekend so we're ready to go on Monday. Sometimes I make a big pot of soup or chili on Sunday that will only be eaten for lunches that week. And to save time in the mornings I scoop up lunch sized containers when it is finished cooking {less things to do in the morning - hooray!}. Then the only thing left to do is gather all the goodies into our lunch bags!

Need a few reasons to pack your lunch? We realized that when packing our lunch we save money - at least $30 to $40 a week. We typically enjoy the food that we are eating more than what we might pick up at a deli. We also found that we created less food waste since we would eat the food we cook (just because it was so convenient since we already spent the time to pack it up).

Need more inspiration? Check out this link of lunch prep tips and recipes from Lisa at the 100 Days of Real Food blog:

10 Recipes to Freeze for School Lunches

Monday, January 27, 2014

around these parts {indoors}...

Oh my. This winter. 

Can I get a "don't you know it, sister!" or maybe a "put a dry log on the fire"?

I love the winter for spending time indoors. Something cozy, calming, like...

making spaces, curling up with a great book

knitting and crafting

movie watching and wine drinking

game nights with cocoa

But really, I could take a few degrees warmer. Just enough for a quick hike with my cabin-fevered pup. Or a longer than five minute outdoor recess at school.

The great thing is, these sub zero temperatures really do limit us to the indoors for creating, organizing and cleaning {we've recently created some awesome closet storage!}. But sometimes I'm just too cold+tired to get my butt out from under a quilt to really get to anything. I think it has to do with the cabin-fevered children I hang out with all day {outside energy + outside volume = rainbow looms, clay work, watercolors, and marathon reading for my elementary kiddos... with the occasional run around the playground because the winds have died down - I mean, we're talking stilt-walking-down-the-halls-stir-crazy folks}

But lets consider the positive, shall we?

The afternoon warmed up a few degrees yesterday. We took advantage of it and made an awesomely tall snowman. Other than the fact he scared me and my pup this morning when we went outside we think he is pretty dapper. 

Hope your week is wonderfully happy!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

around these parts {and on my mind}

Has anyone else settled into a 2014 funk?

Things just aren't quite what I've been expecting the past few weeks. 

Not down right awful - just not quite right.

Days are flying and the todo list isn't changing. I'm looking at my days with a critical eye that doesn't even blink. Unfortunately that can make me feel limited before I even get going. 

I'm finding ways to easily spend my time - in not such mindful or productive ways. And the funny thing is, I don't think we've had the television on in weeks. {In fact, if I'm truly being honest - this post is a way of procrastination of a different kind.} Recently I just can't get started or motivated.

And with that the time is now. 
Time to meditate. Time to take one more deep breath. And then get something positive going. 
Because 2014, you deserve it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bookworm: Books from 2013

Last year I set the goal to read an average of two books each month. I loved having this goal. I really enjoy reading, and knowing that I made it priority for the year allowed me to feel that sitting down and reading was something I should make time for. 

I find it interesting to look back and see what types of books I enjoyed over the year...

on my bookshelf in 2013

Food Rules - Michael Pollan

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

Objects of My Affection - Jill Swarloski

7 - Jen Hatmaker

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barabara Kingsolver

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

On the Road - Jack Kerouac

Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

Wheat Belly - William Davis MD

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

Animal Farm - George Orwell

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

Happier At Home - Gretchen Rubin

The Urban Homestead - Kelly Coyne

It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

squirrel seeks chipmunk by David Sedaris

Monday, January 6, 2014

My 14 in 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, I've begun the year considering taking a new approach of how to focus my time and the way I set goals for the new year. Something a little less decided. I've recently been thinking that so much can change in a year. I'm actually craving some flexibility that may support changing my mind of how to use my time from day to day or month to month. 

With this in mind, I've decided to try something a little different this year with my goals list. To try to find a way to complete goals that I may not even be aware that I want to begin. To work on passions and spend my time in meaningful ways that may not always have end results. 

First of all, I will live the year with the word "presence" in mind. 

I will also consider the following 14 habits or open-ended goals for the year.

My 14 in 2014

1. Finish {something I've already started}.

2. Read.

3. Experience.

4. Taste.

5. Create.

6. Rest.

7. Travel.

8. Run.

9. Photograph.

10. Enjoy.

11. Write.

12. Save.

13. Appreciate.

14. Start {something new}.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 {A Year of Presence}

We've said goodbye to a lovely 2013...

Now onto starting a beautiful 2014.

Last year I decided to keep the word "focus" in mind when spending my time each day. Focusing on my list of goals, one special task at a time, and my current mode of social interaction. I believe that 2013 was a great year... full of achievements, but maybe not all the specific goals I laid out in January 2013. It can be difficult to complete goals when new adventures come along and drastically change the day to day life you were expecting to live. However it is wonderful. It is life.

As 2013 began to wrap up, I found myself ready to make a new list of goals and consider what I "should be doing". Something seems so refreshing about it. "New Goals" - so lofty, yet obtainable with a fresh new planner. But then the idea of new lists and goals began to weigh heavy on me. I don't know if making loads of goals should be the way for me to find success every year. But then again, it may depend on the goals. I am not certain. However, I came back to the idea of a specific word to keep in mind. I decided that would be the way to for me to start off the year of 2014.


I want this year to be a year of presence. To find myself fully present in the moment. To enjoy my current surroundings, to enjoy the others I fill my time with - while I am with them. I want to notice how I feel. How my loved ones feel. How my settings feel. Mindful of as much as possible and not just planning my next step. To be grateful of who I'm with and what I'm currently doing. To lose the distractions of extras, such as easily accessed media on my phone. To focus on the interactions of now. To train my thoughts from wandering too far and to steer them back to the present.

I am certain that 2014 will be something I want to take in, experience and remember - as many moments as I can.

Friday, January 3, 2014

sending my thanks to you, 2013...

2013 was a great year. Not what was expected, or planned. But truly wonderful. My family is so grateful for what we had in 2013 and what we have to enjoy in the upcoming year.

And with that... I'll attempt my 13 in 2013 final reflection.

My 13 in 2013

1. Read 2 books each month - success! I've loved having such a focus on reading last year. Knowing that I wanted to read at least two books each month made it easy to check out an extra book at the library or grab a book off my shelf that I had been "saving". 

2. Create and follow a financial plan {eliminating debt is a great plan for our future} - success!

3. Continue de-cluttering of our home {specifically our office and garage} - almost complete. Our office is awesome and I'm continuing to organize more and more usable items into that space; our garage has been simplified, but is currently a workshop space and not organized for storage. However it is better than ever before!

4Runbikehike or hit the gym four days a week - lots of running, biking, hiking this year.

5. Share 10 tips, recipes, or ideas that consider or assist with my lifestyle choice of cutting out processed & non local foods on the blog - unfinished - this goal is still on my mind; but I didn't complete 10 posts this year on this topic. But don't worry, I'm not shying away from these types of posts yet!

6. Take the time to travel to a "someday" place or go on a "someday" trip - completed after our awesome summer road trip!

7Write {write more, write often and not just on the blog} - complete!

8Garden {goodness knows that our compost pile is ready - 'grow big & grow at home'} - complete!

9. Create a desirable working space in our study - still putting final touches, but I think this will take a lifetime - considered complete!

10. Run a registered 5k and continue the family 5k tradition. - check and check!

11. Share about my choices and plans concerning "simple living" {share 5 tips or ideas indicating intentionality of this lifestyle choice on the blog} - almost completed - will continue to post on this topic

12. Complete a photography challenge - check!

13. Be mindful and creative with support given to friends and family {no matter how far apart we live} - loved spending time on this over the year - complete!

I fully completed 10 out of the 13 goals this year. I plan to wrap up the final 3 goals that were left unfinished over the next year. I'll keep working on me daily and then writing on here when I can!

Much love and thanks to 2013 and much happiness to you all in 2014!